OUR “TONY’S TURNING 50” TRIP TO WINE COUNTRY – SEPTEMBER 2019: DAY 2

Ohey everyone!

I am back with another recap from our trip to Napa to celebrate Tony’s 50th.  Day 2 was a jam-packed day full of drunk.

Oh, sorry. I mean wine tastings.

Which is a fancy way of saying “drunk.”

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That’s me. ALLLLLL day.

Day 2 started early. Because (1) we were excited for wine but also (2) because we were still on east coast time and fools ain’t sleeping past 5AM.

But being up so early meant we could get some sunrise in.

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Nickie was evidently not impressed.

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I tried my best to tame my hair with pool water prior to taking that pic. It obviously didn’t take.

And even cooler? We were literally on top of the clouds. Like angels.

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Nickie even got in a quick Facetime with Owen and Myles to show them how important and classy we are.

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Soon enough, the rest of the house was up. Breakfast on Day 2 was a quick one. On account of we needed all the tummy room. For wine. Which seemed a solid plan.

Nickie and I just toasted up some bagels – we split a plan and an everything – and smeared on the cream cheese. This seemed like a suitable foundation on which to build my in-stomach alcohol house.

We then all retreated to our separate rooms – and bathrooms on account of this house is OMG – and got ready for the day. And since we all looked hella-good, it seemed a good opportunity to take advantage of the birthday background Larissa had set up in the hallway.

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Our driver, Tom….

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…picked us up around 9:30AM to whisk us away to a day full of awesome. And check out our ride (this picture is from a little later in the day, but I forgot to get an exterior shot when we got picked up. Sorry, I was excited.

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Here’s what the inside looked like. Big. Pimpin.

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I should also mention Tom was pretty great. He was super knowledgeable and personable. And he was willing to put up with us and all our obnxiousness. Which pretty much makes hm a shoe-in for sainthood.

Nikki (of Nikki and Chris fame, not my Nickie. Note the spelling) was our DJ for the day. The soundtrack was mainly 80s based, which was completely fine with me. Obvs squad.

Our first stop of the day was at Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga.

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We arrived at the vineyard at a little after 10:15AM. Man, I love Napa. Morning wine is the best kind of wine. And Larkmead is a pretty beautiful location.

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We were greeted with a glass of their Lillie Sauvignon Blanc.

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Which I actually enjoyed though a good number of people in our group were a bit ‘meh’ on. I didn’t think it was the best wine I have ever had (though I can’t imagine ever saying that about any glass of Sauvignon Blanc) but as a morning white, I thought it was nice.

Our host for this private tasting was – I think – Eric? I don’t know honestly. Sorry…Eric?

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He led us outside, telling us about the Larkmead process and how they are starting to move into other wine types to keep up with changing climates and what not. But more importantly, look at us.

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I kid of course. His whole spiel was interesting, though it did have a sort of “scripted” feel to it, unlike our other hosts throughout the day.

Our actual tasting took place here…

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We set up at our table and got ready for our tasting.

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Our technical tasting consisted of three different reds –

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As you can see in the image above, we tasted the Firebelle (largely a Merlot but complemented with some Cab Sav and Petit Verdot), the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the LMV Salon (which was essentially half Cab Sav and half Cabernet Franc.)

Interestingly, he poured all three at the same time and told us we could kind of jump back and forth between them.

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We were also given a taste of their Solari at the end. He had it decanted and poured us each a glass. When we finished, I did say I would be open to having another taste. Eric? hastily took the decanter away saying he had to use it for another tasting. I don’t know, man. That just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. He could have either just joked with me about it or, as most tastings would, offered me another taste. Definitely making me feel like he was worried I would steal his wine wasn’t the best move he could have made.

I will say their wine is tasty. And the Larkmead location is definitely pretty. But the experience felt a bit lacking in personality. I prefer vineyards that make you feel they are happy to have you there. No worries – the next two definitely delivered.

Regardless, we did of course buy some wine – both for the house and to be shipped back. We got some Firebelle to bring back to the house.

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And I believe we ordered some LMV Salon to be shipped back home. We haven’t received it just yet, but I am pretty sure that’s what we got. There is a bit of blur to this day.

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On our way out, Tony and I sat down for a little R&R. Rocking and Reflecting.

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It’s too bad we don’t have a good time together.

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Tom met us outside and we hopped in our van to head to our next destination – Lindstrom Vineyard.

On the way there, we had a ROUSING rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Soon enough, we reached Lindstrom. What a cool location. The drive to the vineyard was most certainly “up.”

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Our amazing hostess, Ashley of Carbon Wines, met us outside and brought us inside. I wish I had a picture of the location exterior because it was pretty much a house. I mean, a really nice house. But a house nonetheless. Which added to the whole “feeling like family” vibe this tasting gave off.

We were brought in through the kitchen and greeted immediately by a VERY good Pinot.

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Ashley asked us if we would rather taste inside or out. While the morning was still a bit cool, we couldn’t resist this view.

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So we chose the outdoor patio. It was the right choice. But to be honest, if we had chosen to stay inside, I’d still be saying that was the right choice. On account of both choices had wine.

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As we sat out there tasting our wines, Ashley set us up with some amazing snacks  – some truffle almonds, chocolates, caramels – and told us all about Lindstrom Vineyards.

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Our tasting here wasn’t exclusively Lindstrom. While we did start with a Lindstrom Pinot Noir, the other wines we tasted were all part of the rest of the Carbon Wine lineup. We tasted a couple wines from Immortal Estate – Slope and Impassible Mountain.

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And we tried some from The Debate.

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And remember when I mentioned how Eric? at Larkmead quickly took the wine away when I hinted at maybe wanting another sip? None of that with Ashley. Not only did she let me have more of that delicious Impassible Mountain but she let us take the rest of the wine over to the picnic table for lunch.

Ashley>Eric?

Lunch was a short walk away. And I don’t use the term picturesque lightly. I use it very heavily. And this place was picturesque. Heavily.

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I cannot remember where lunch was ordered from, but it was rull good. I got a salami and cheese and Nickie ordered the ham and cheese and we did some splitsies. Which I am always a fan of. On account of I am indecisive.

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We got yet another bottle of Pinot for the house and ordered a few to be shipped home.

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Of the three tastings we did on Day 2, this was my favorite. Both the wines and the food were delicious and the overall experience was a perfect mix of luxury and casual. I dunno. It was ALL the adjectives. I mean, Nickie DID get pooped on by a bird. But she handled it well. On account of the wine.

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It was tough to leave, but there was more wine to taste. And if we didn’t do it, who would?

I am pretty sure I have mentioned this before but we LOVE ourselves and as we were boarding the van, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get some pictures of ourselves in front of this hella-pretty landscape. Seriously, this background is so pretty it looks fake as fudge.

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I know what you’re thinking. How did so many good-looking people end up in the same van? Sometimes the planets just align, man.

We then boarded the van and were on our way to our last tasting of the day. Last tasting of the trip, actually. For all of us. Even the drunks that arrived days before us.

This final tasting was at Hourglass Winery. We pulled up to these vats…

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…and I totes mcgotes wanted to pull a Strange Brew right then and there.

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We met up with our host, Ian, and were led inside.

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We started with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc as Ian told us a little bit about Hourglass. And everyone agreed this Sauvignon Blanc was better than Larkmead’s.

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And then we were led into our cave for our formal tasting.

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Place was super cool. And those chairs Chris and I are sitting in. They were all furry and what not. I totally felt like I won the game.

Of thrones.

The game of thrones.

We tried a few different wines from Hourglass, including this baby.

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And honestly, I wish I could remember all the wines we tried. I am pretty sure we tried the HG III but look, this was like my 12th glass of wine today so EXCUSE ME if I can’t remember every single wine I tried. I remember really liking them and we ended up ordering a bottle to be shipped home. And Ian was a great host. He even let us drink straight from one of the barrels at the end of the tasting.

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It was a great end to the wine tasting portion of the day. Now onto the wine drinking portion.

Well, first. Look, it’s THE SIGN.

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After getting a pic in front of the sign, Tom took us back to the house because we had a birthday dinner to get to. Well, birthday dinner #1. This one was back at the house, again courtesy of Chef Tiffany.

She started us off with this incredible charcuterie.

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Everything on that plate was super duper good. There was some pheasant pate and those slices of meat there are duck. And that bread up there to the right? I was all, “Ohai bread. I will eat all of you now.”

It was once again a perfect night outside. So Nickie and I took advantage of the light to snap a quick selfie.

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Nickie is a legit SNACK.

Speaking of snacks, Chef Tiffany then brought out these scallops.

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Sorry I should have said, “Chef Tiffany then brought out THESE SCALLOPS!!!!!!!11111”

They were insanely good. That wrapper was like a rice paper dealie and the scallops were so fresh and mmmmmm. Even Nickie ate one.

Before dinner, Larissa opened up a bottle of Ghost Horse Fantome she got earlier in the week for us all to sample. And I can honestly say, that was the most expensive glass of wine I have ever had. Larissa’s generosity knows no bounds. Of course it was good. Duh.

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Before we drank, I read a toast I had prepared for Tony and he got up to say a few words of thanks as well. There were tears, of course.

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But to be honest, I was already crying a little because of the scallops and Fantome.

Seriously, though. It was a nice moment and set the stage for a great night.

We started with this apple-goat cheese-bacon salad. Bacon and goat cheese are two of the greatest things ever invented so I for sure loved this salad. And I don’t say that about a lot of salads.

Well, unless mayonnaise is involved.

After the salad, we had a pasta course. Which is a Falzonian curiosity. And I am glad it exists. Essentially, Tony and Larissa make the point that one would feel their meal was lacking if pasta WAS the entrée but also the idea of not having pasta is also not desirable.

Hence, the pasta course. And tonight’s was an incredibly tasty toasted gnocchi with ground veal.

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As we were finishing our gnocchi, the sun started to set. And it was, as Doctor Ben on Seinfeld would put it, “breathtaking.”

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We all tried to get pictures in front of it. But the lighting was tough.

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Ramone made the best of it. Zoolandering like a mofo out there.

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But then, Nikki was like “hey use the flash” and it was life-changing. She’s a photographer so like, she knows.

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It was a pretty epic sunset.

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Our entrée was a halibut served on top of these white beans. And I say this without hyperbole. These may have been the best beans I have ever tasted.

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The chef served Nickie chicken on account of she doesn’t really do much seafood.

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I had a bite of hers and the chicken was mighty tasty as well. Plus, she still got to have the beans.

For dessert, Larissa ordered a cake from Oliver’s.

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One layer was marble and the other was a lemon cake. I, of course, tried both layer and can report back they were both very very good.

I love cake like a fat kid love cake. On account of I am a fat kid.

After dinner, we had a couple drinks and retreated to the hot tub. And folks. I sang. A LOT. Like, I got into that zone where I was on some stage in my head and everyone else in the hot tub was there to listen. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it.

And when I say “everyone,” I mean “I.” I am sure I enjoyed it.

And that was Day 2, my friends. I know, it was pretty awesome. I feel like I said multiple times on this day, “what an amazing day.” And the trip was definitely not over.

Stay tuned for my next post. I am going to probably make that the final post of the trip, covering Days 3, 4, and 5. On account of I have to leave on Day 4 to do some work and Day 5 is our travel day home. But Day 3? Day 3 is the day. THE DAY. The day when we go to French Laundry. So I mean, get excited.

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